[Source: Suffolk County Council]

Over 60 people celebrated the launch of the 14th annual Suffolk Walking Festival at Clare Castle Country Park on Saturday 14 May.

All in attendance were greeted by the Clare Town Crier on the warm and sunny morning which marked the start of one of the longest running walking festivals in the UK. Organisers then welcomed guest speaker Derek Blake, Chair of Clare Walkers who got the festivities underway by welcoming attendees on the first of many walks planned for this year’s festival.

The two launch walks were:

  • Clare and the Upper Stour Valley (5 miles): This walk combined views of Clare’s unique built heritage (medieval castle ruins, Victorian railway buildings, country park and Priory), with the beautiful scenery of the Upper Stour Valley, the common and medieval Erbury
  • Exploring Clare Castle Country Park (2 miles): This walk explored all sections of Clare Castle Country Park, the different green space habitats and heritage: medieval castle ruins, railway heritage, the new cut of the River Stour and railway walk.

The Suffolk Walking Festival is back for 2022, after it was cancelled in 2020 and took place virtually in 2021 due to the pandemic. The 16-day programme boasts over 70 walks, covering 400 miles. Whether you enjoy exploring outstanding landscapes, seascapes, and rivers, watching wildlife and seasonal spectacles, or learning more about Suffolk’s local history. There is a walk for all. Some of the highlights of this year’s festival include

  • A gentle stroll along the River Lark into water meadows and a nature reserve,
  • A chance to discover the history of the wool trade and the history of Lavenham on the “Woads, Weavers and Wizards” Walk,
  • The opportunity to get crafty in the woods with the Family Wildcrafts Walk at Brandon Country Park, and
  • The promise of a hill in Suffolk, on the “Valley Ramble, dipping a toe into Essex” walk.
  • There are also 3 longer walks, to give yourself a challenge, all starting from the Abbey Gardens, exploring landscapes North, South and East of Bury St Edmunds.

Councillor Paul West, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for Ipswich, operational highways and flooding, said:

“It is very exciting to see the much-loved Suffolk Walking Festival celebrate its fourteenth year. The festival grows in popularity each year with its vast variety of walks and events – it shows off some of Suffolk’s most beautiful places and is a fantastic way to keep active and meet others. The festival requires a great deal of planning and organising, and of course support from the walkers – so I thank all who are involved and make these events possible. I would encourage all to grab a ticket for a walk before they all sell out!”

Visit the Suffolk Walking Festival website for more details of the programme, to sign up to regular newsletters, and to buy tickets.